Caitlin Clark scores 20 in 10-turnover debut as Fever fall to Sun

By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Caitlin Clark struggled early in her WNBA debut before finishing with 20 points and 10 turnovers as the Indiana Fever fell to the Connecticut Sun, 92-71, on Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Alyssa Thomas led the Sun with 13 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, registering the 12th triple-double of her career. DeWanna Bonner added 20 points and DiJonai Carrington had 16. Carrington also was a major reason for Clark’s early offensive struggles, hounding the guard.

“Disappointed and nobody likes to lose, that’s how it is,” said Clark, whose turnovers were the most in a career debut in WNBA history. “Can’t beat yourself up too much about one game.”

The NCAA’s all-time Division I scoring leader, who finished the game 5 for 15 from the field, went scoreless in the first quarter. The No. 1 pick in last month’s WNBA draft missed her first four shots before finally getting on the board midway through the second period.

Clark stole the ball around the foul line and drove the length of the court before laying the ball in. She later added two free throws and made a 3-point shot with 29.9 seconds left in the first half to finish the opening 20 minutes with seven points, hitting two of her seven shot attempts. The Fever trailed 49-39 at the break.

The Fever got within 63-57 late in the third quarter on two free throws by Clark, but couldn’t get closer the rest of the way.

Clark did start heating up from the field, hitting four 3-pointers, including one from long range. She finished 4 for 11 from behind the arc and added three assists and two steals.

“Caitlin was able to get her some looks, able to knock them down. our spacing was not great,” Indiana coach Christie Sides said. “Connecticut came in and punched us in the mouth tonight. We’ll be in the gym tomorrow watching a lot of video trying to figure out how not to turn the ball over 25 times.”

Carrington, a fourth-year guard out of Stanford and Baylor, drew the primary assignment on Clark and locked her down most of the evening. Carrington held Clark to 2-of-10 shooting and forced eight turnovers when she was the primary defender. Thomas, a perennial WNBA Defensive Player of the Year candidate, bothered Clark at times, too, and drew several fouls on the rookie.

The game had the bustle and energy of a playoff or Finals game. Fans donning Sun, Fever and even Iowa gear lined up to get into the arena more than 2½ hours before the tip. The Sun handed out more than 170 credentials for media, with ESPN’s “WNBA Countdown” desk stationed near the Fever bench and overflow media coming from near and far situated in a skybox.

The crowd of 8,910 marked the Sun’s first home opener sellout since 2003, their inaugural game in Connecticut.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was among those in attendance.

“This is like a freakin’ Taylor Swift concert,” he said as security led him through the back of the arena and out to his seat.

The Fever – who are hoping to end the league’s longest active playoff drought at seven seasons – have lost their opening game in 10 of the past 11 seasons, with their only win coming in 2019.

Before a rematch against the Sun on Monday, Clark and the Fever play the New York Liberty, last year’s WNBA Finals runner-up, first in Indianapolis on Thursday and then in Brooklyn on Saturday.


Bonner moved into fifth on the WNBA’s career scoring list, moving ahead of former Phoenix Mercury teammate Candice Dupree. who finished her career with 6,895 points. Bonner passed Dupree on a layup midway through the third quarter.

“To do it here on this night with this team and this group and this crowd made it more special,” Bonner said. “It was huge and goal of mine i can check off my list. to be in this league is hard, to stay in this league is harder. To be part of that list is amazing. pat myself on the back for that one.”

Bonner, who now has 6,901 points, raised her hands to the crowd after a timeout to acknowledge the accomplishment.

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